So, Apple’s making a big move in the US by putting a stop to selling some Apple Watch versions. Why? Well, it’s all to get ahead of this massive patent drama that’s been brewing.
What’s Going Down?
Apple spilled the beans, saying they’re pulling the plug on the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2. Yup, starting Thursday on Apple, and after December 24 in stores, you won’t find these watches.
The Beef with Masimo
Here’s the deal: Apple’s been in a tiff with medical device company Masimo over their blood oxygen feature. You know how Apple pitches its smartwatch as a life-saving gadget? Well, that’s partly why it’s soared in popularity globally. But this spat with Masimo could mess that up.
The US International Trade Commission ruled that Apple crossed the line with Masimo’s pulse oximeter patent that reads blood-oxygen levels using light-based tech. President Biden’s got 60 days to look at this before any ban kicks in.
Apple’s taking steps early, just in case. They’re saying, “Okay, if this ruling sticks, we’ll follow it.” But they’re not cool with it and are fighting back legally and technically.
What’s the Game Plan?
Apple’s ready to fight this ruling tooth and nail. They’re even planning to take it up with the Federal Circuit. Plus, they’re saying how crucial the Apple Watch features are for healthcare and research, hoping to sway things their way.
But here’s the deal: if the ban holds, they’re going to work hard to get these watches back to the customers in the US real quick.
Sales Impact and the Holiday Rush
Okay, this pause in sales? It’s happening right before Christmas. Smart move, I guess, because people can still grab these watches until December 24 in stores. That might soften the financial hit from this sales freeze.
David McQueen from ABI Research thinks Apple might weather this storm fine if they hustle these last few days before Christmas and sell off the available stock. He’s saying, “Look, Apple’s got about a 24% market share. So, if they push these watches in these final days, they might just ride out the holiday season without a major sales hit.”
What Lies Ahead?
Last year, Apple sold a whopping 49 million smartwatches. And in the first nine months of 2023, they moved about 26.7 million. McQueen’s curious to see how long this tiff will drag or when Apple decides to sort things out. Plus, when will this ban blow over?
This isn’t the first time Apple and Masimo have gone head-to-head. Back in 2022, Apple threw two patent infringement lawsuits at Masimo, claiming their watch copied some of Apple’s features.
Masimo’s CEO, Joe Kiani, sees Apple’s sales pause as a chess move in their patent battle. He’s open to settling the score with Apple but hasn’t seen any moves from their side.
So yeah, for now, Apple’s hit pause on a couple of watches. But the big question is, how long will this showdown last, and when will we see those watches back on the shelves?